How to Make the Most of Your Cramped Dorm Room


Dorms can be a fun place to live, as you’re able to meet like-minded individuals and partake in bonding activities. However, the pros also come with the cons, such as sharing an already cramped space with strangers. Transitioning from your own room to a shared area can quite daunting, as you deal with the challenges of space and privacy. However, don’t feel as though you’ll need to pile everything in a corner. The following tips can help you organize your space, giving the means to adjust into the dorm room life:

Contact your Roommates

You don’t want to bring a mini-fridge, TV, and so on, realizing that your roommate has done the same. Instead, try to contact them ahead of time and coordinate who will bring which item. Generally, colleges provide you with your future roommate’s contact information so that it’s easy to establish communications.  Understanding who brings what will reduce the chances that you bring similar items and further bring clutter into the room.

Choose Decorations Wisely

Dorm rooms are a blank slate, and every year, students infuse the room with their own personality. When choosing decorations, keep in mind that some will give your room a cluttered feel, while others give the illusion of spaciousness. For example, posters and clippings of pictures can give the impression that your walls are small and crowded, making the space smaller than it seems. On the other hand, mirrors are a great way to make your room appear extra roomy.

Do You Actually Need It?

You may be tempted to bring every comfort and luxury from home, but take some time to consider whether you’ll actually need the item. For example, microwaves and mini-fridges may not be necessary if you have a cafeteria nearby. In addition, if your dormitory offers a common space with seating, then bringing a sofa or lounge chair from home may be overkill. The fewer items you bring, the easier it will be to move out at the end of the year.

Keep the Clutter Out

One of the quickest ways to make a cramped room seem even smaller is to let it collect clutter. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you and your roommate establish some sort of organization in order to keep your room as spacious as possible. If needed, come to an agreement about cleaning and organization, and whether you’ll need to divide chores.  But if you’re unable to decide, remember that both you and your roommate have your own space. If he or she has their own living preferences, then you’ll need to be flexible and learn to accommodate.

Extra Storage

Dorm rooms are generally stocked with the bare essentials, such as a bed, desk, and a single cabinet. Therefore, you may want to bring extra storage to hold all of your supplies and belongings. Considering that the floor space will be quickly taken up, you may want to go for vertical storage and invest in stackable units. Another great way to create storage is to buy wall hangers and hooks, which can place items out of the way. Don’t forget to bring clothes hangers as well, lest you wish to dump all your clothes onto the floor.


Christine Cooney is a writer at The House Designers, writing articles on DIY and award winning home plans on The House Designers blog. She loves learning about architecture, home décor, and online house plans.

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Book and Paper Clutter Can Cause Overwhelm and Make You Miss Opportunities



Hello, Thank you for all the wonderful information that you share. My story, is all about books and papers, I have always been a book person and also have kept many things hoping to share them with others. I have books mainly on health, natural healing, gardening, self help , astrology, Metaphysical, cooking, As I have always been interested in healing and cooking.

I am now 73 years old and really want to do something about all the books and papers I have around me I know that I have a lot of wonderful things to share that could help others but I have not find a way to do it, yet.

I would love to open a cooking school to teach food body connection and herbs and gardening but do not have the money to do it. I am trying to find a way to decide if I have to let all these books and papers go or what, I would appreciate you letting me know what you think about this.

Thanks, Janette


Hi Janette,

I am so glad that you took the time to post this question in the comments section under the article about paper clutter. Books and papers are a challenge for many of us, including my family. You are not alone!Papers and books can cause quite a havoc on your environment. I can relate to your dilemma as I am an avid reader and love the printed page in whatever form it is given to me!It sounds like you have been collecting articles and books for quite some time.

My advice would be to look around your home and determine how many you can comfortably fit without feeling overwhelmed. It helps to keep all of your books etc into one area of your home to avoid the cluttered feeling and atmosphere.So, take for instance, I decided to keep all of our books in the guest room. Once I decided this, it became easy to see how many bookshelves I could fit/use in that room. My family also has issues around cookbooks. My husband has never met a cookbook that he does not like!

So, that being said, once I determined where our books would live, I bought 3 Billy book shelves from Ikea to line one of the walls. I use the Billy shelf frequently because they are 72″ tall and use the vertical space in each room efficiently.The space on those 3 shelves determined how many books we could keep. This containment system made us decide which books were the most important and which were not. We got rid of every book that did not fit into that pre-determined space. Since it was difficult task, we filled up every inch. This was not the best method because then every time we got a new book, we had to let one go.

The better idea is to purge enough books so that there is room to grow without having to urge more after each new purchase. One in, one out, so to speak continues the process. We eventually were able to create enough space on the shelves to add a few photos, vases and artwork so the shelves were not so crowded and more visually appealing.

So, the moral to the story is that you need to make an agreement with yourself how many books and papers make sense in your environment. Once that is decided, storing them all into one area of the house will eliminate the cluttered feeling. If you truly want to start leading classes and share your years of knowledge, why don’t you explore who else does this in your area and give them some of your books? You never know, this gift might lead to forging an alliance and allow you to offer a few classes at their venue! Even if this does not happen, you will feel lighter and your home less cluttered when you let go of your excess.

Regarding your loose papers and files, you need to ask yourself if you could find them easier, quicker and more up to date when, and if, you need them later with an online google search. Typically, you can find information on any topic x 10,000 you need much more quickly on Google than trying to find files on the same topic within your home or office later.

If you would like more tips on how to organize the papers that you decide to keep, click on this link. Thanks so much for your question. I hope this response helps!



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When to Turn to Temporary Self Storage Options

When to Turn to Temporary Self Storage Options
Before you read this article, make sure you re-read the title: When to turn to TEMPORARY self-storage options!

The best way to de-clutter your home is to get rid of things and to spend some time organizing. Self storage is definitely not the best the solution for clutter. However, it is an excellent temporary solution in a few different situations. Here are a few of the situations that might cause you to turn to self storage:

1. Moving

You may find out that you have to leave where you currently live and move across the country for a few months or a few years for a job. In this type of relocation situation, you may want to leave some of your things behind because you know you’ll be moving back. In cases like this, there’s probably no need to move everything you own with you, and you may want to store your things in a self storage unit to keep them safe until you get back.

If you’re moving to another city and do not think that you’ll be returning to your current city any time in the near future, it may be a good idea to just bring your things with you. Moving with a lot of stuff is definitely more difficult. You can always get rid of some things to downsize your move.

2. Sentimental Attachment

If you’ve just inherited your great-grandma’s 18th century furniture, you may not have enough room for it in your home. However, since it belonged to your grandma and was special to her, you may want to keep it. In this case, you could consider turning to self storage to temporarily store your inherited items until you move to a larger home or make room for them in your current home.

There may be other instances when you have a sentimental attachment to something and are not ready to fully part with it. Self storage can be a solution in just about any situation that involves things that hold emotional value. Just remember that it’s better for self storage to only be a temporary solution, especially because of the long-terms costs associated with it.

These are the two most common situations that cause people to turn to self storage. Other situations like new people moving into a home and the need for someplace to store a boat or RV because of Homeowner’s Association restrictions are also common. Self storage can be very useful, but it’s wise not to use it as a crutch for simply owning too much stuff!

About the Author: Jessica Johnson works in the self storage industry, regularly traveling to see locations like a self storage facility in Kailua-Kona. In many locations, like a Shawnee self storage facility, Jessica Johnson helps her customers store seasonal sports gear when it is not being used for outdoor activities or equipment for home improvement projects that are waiting to happen.

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Is a Shoe Rack the Best Method for Shoe Storage?

Shoe Storage

(Part One)

(Part Two)

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!!! Many women have a major infatuation with shoes. After working with hundreds of clients, as both a professional organizer and image consultant, I have determined why most women love to shop for, and have fun wearing, shoes more than any other clothing item.

You see, even while our weight is upsizing and downsizing, our shoe size is remains basically the same, give or take a 1/2 size.  Not only do our feet consistently stay the same size, they never create a humiliating shopping experience.  Shoes are kind. They don’t make us feel fat or accent bulges in all of the wrong places like a bad pair of jeans or a too snug blouse. In fact, more often than not, the right pair of shoes make us feel sexy, powerful and ready to take on the world! So, this in my humble opinion, is why we typically end up with more shoes than we can reasonably fit into our closet.

My most common organizing challenge is how to fit the largest amount of shoes into the smallest amount of space. With this goal in mind, the common shoe rack rarely solves this problem. The shoe rack takes up a lot of floor space. Don’t get me  wrong, floor space can be useful at times but it also collects dust bunnies when cluttered, disorganized and filled wall to wall.

The Hanging Shoe Bag –   This is my all-time favorite shoe storage device! I have been using this system for years and still marvel at the fact that I can store 10 pairs of shoes in a space no wider than 6.5 inches! For those of us with over 40 pairs of shoes, this means we can fit our entire shoe collection into a space of less than 3 feet! Granted with this system, you need to have extra hanging rod space, or, if you are ingenious, you need that much free ceiling and wall space. Most versions have metal hooks to hang them from the rod although some have velcro straps to rap around the rod. Either version connects effortlessly and easily onto your hanging rod.

The men’s version of the hanging shoe bag is slightly wider (8”) to accommodate the larger shoe width.

Side by Side Hanging Shoe Bags – Another variation of the hanging shoe bag is the side by side pocket model. It has pockets on the right and left and holds 30 pairs of shoes. You can hang it on the back of the door or on an empty wall inside your closet.

Hanging shoe bags provide quick and easy access as well as providing a perfect view of what you are looking for. They are stored easily into pairs. You don’t have to open a lid, move stacks of boxes, bend over or go through any other rigamarole to see and access the shoes you need.

Sometimes you simply might not have the rod or wall space for the hanging shoe bag. If not, never fear, I have other solutions for you.

Shoe Storage Boxes – Plastic and canvas options available

Canvas Shoe Box Organizers – feature front end openings and stack well together. The front door is clear so you can see what is inside and also allows you to access your shoes without having to unstack  your collection.

Plastic Shoe Boxes – These are best used when you have a lot of shelf space and limited hanging space. I keep my special occasion shoes on a shelf way up high in my closet. Shoe boxes protect your shoes from dust and pet hair and also keep your best stilettos from being smashed by others. If you decide to use this method, make sure to buy clear containers so you can get a glimpse of what might be inside. Or better yet, spend the time to take a photo of the shoes and attach the pic to the short end of the box so you will not have to guess which gold heels are actually stashed inside the box!

Back of the Door Shoe Storage – This solution is good under extreme small closet conditions as it does provide storage in a small amount of space.

Back of the Door Shoe Pockets – The disadvantage I see witness is that shoes often become crushed when you try to smoosh them into the pockets.

Back of the Door Shoe Racks – I like this solution because it holds a massive amount of shoes in a very small sometimes unused space. The disadvantage is the wire racks can sometimes warp your shoes so use it gently.

Shoe Cabinets – Hide shoes and can provide self stand alone solution when shoes need to be located outside of your closet. Many models use drop down drawers which let you take shoes in and out very easily.

Here is a larger version of a stand alone shoe cabinet. If you are a visual person, this one is perfect because it has doors to hide the visual clutter of 15-48 pairs of shoes.I like it because it again, uses more vertical space!

Ikea also offers a plastic version which can mount on the wall.

Wooden Shoe Benches – provide a place to store shoes and also to sit while putting them on. Sometimes, I use these at the entrance to homes with a lot of foot traffic, meaning a lot of kids and shoe clutter! Sometimes it is easier to get the kids to take off their shoes as soon as they get in the door than to try to find shoes later when they are running out the door and late for school. Shoes off when coming into the house, on when going out! This also eliminates dirt and makes cleaning the carpet less frequently and solves the challenge of storing shoes in the closet.

Shoe Shelves – can solve many challenges. If there is an ample amount of floor/wall space, I  like using stackable shelves so that I can add to your storage capacity if needed.

Many shelves also offer the advantage of being expandable so that you can customize the size based on your space requirements. If you do decide to go with shelf storage, make sure to buy heavy shelving, especially if you are storing mens footwear. I have found that a lot of shelves simply do not hold up and or topple over when loaded to capacity.

Under Bed Shoe Storage – including plastic tubs, rolling racks and zippered pouches. Under the bed rolling shoe organizers use space that is typically free and clear of clutter.

Under Bed Rolling Racks – The open air rolling shoe racks are good for shoes that you wear frequently. The disadvantage is that they tend to collect dust bunnies.

Under the Bed Zippered Pouches – are best for off-season or occasional shoes because they are too much of a hassle to get in and out of on a daily basis.

Under Bed Plastic Bin Storage – I like this solution becuase it has wheels for easy access.

Shoe Storage Carts – I use these for my clients who have a lot of off season shoes. It is tall but only takes less than 14 inches of horizontal space. It is also zippered so it keeps shoes in clean when in storage. Anytime I can use vertical space and less horizontal space, I am happy!


Smaller Wheeled and Sealed Storage Cart – Good for stowing under hanging clothes.

Shoe Carousels – You can hang this unit form your hanging rod.  The Swivel hanger allows you to access every pocket and shelf in one swirl. Lifts all your items up off the floor and organizes them so when you are ready to use them they are visible and clean.

Revolving Shoe Trees – These work fantastic when stashed into the small unreachable corners of your closet. I had one installed to the left of a built in cabinet in my two sliding door closet. It served me well for years and made good use of the corner that was never easy to reach. When I needed a pair of shoes, I simply spun the rack and found what I was looking for.  Make sure the space you choose has room around it for the shoes to move since each carousel rotates for easy location.You can buy these as stand alone units or, in my super small closet situation, the floor to ceiling model was perfect!

Standing Racks are yet another way to keep your shoes off of the floor. These are a little better than the shoe rack because they keep your shoes on place and separated.

Shoe Storage Wheel – This is a very interesting and novel way to store your shoes. I have not seen it personally so cannot vouch for it’s quality, but it looks pretty cool! They say you can store 20-30 pairs of shoes inside. The unit is on wheels so you could stow it under your hanging clothes and pull it out to access your shoes. Very interesting. I would love to play with one of these in person!


If you still cant find the perfect solution for your shoe collection after reading this article, I quit! Have fun upgrading your shoe storage, and most importantly, stow your shoes somewhere besides in piles on the floor of your closet!

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How One Client Made Space in her Garage to Eliminate her Storage Unit

Situation: This client has had a storage unit since 2007. She has downgraded from a large unit to a medium unit, and then down to a small unit. She decided to get rid of the storage unit altogether and store everything in her home, saving herself the monthly fee.


Challenge: The client needed to make space in her garage for the items from her storage unit. She is also moving and needed to downsize and pack, making sure there will be room for everything in her new home.


Solution: We organized, downsized, packed and labeled everything in the client’s garage. Once we had space in the garage for the items from storage,  we went to the storage unit and organized and downsized everything there. The items she decided to keep were loaded into a van and moved to her garage. Furniture, paintings, pottery, and a couple boxes were organized, packed, and labeled, ready to be moved to her new home with the rest of her belongings.

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Garage, Storage Units and Keepsakes

big garage before

Situation: This garage had plenty of built-in storage but a mess was created when we decided to get rid of the off-site storage unit and consolidate everything into the garage. As with most organizing projects, there is usually temporary chaos before there is order.

Challenge: The back wall of this garage had built-in floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall shelves but they were completely full of childhood memories consisting of one large plastic bin per child per year.With three kids all of them at least in middle school, that meant a lot of bins!

big garage after

Solution: We went through all of the kid’s  memory boxes. At first it was very hard for my client to get rid of childhood papers. She eventually became a champ at making decisions and letting go of enough memories so that each child’s memory items could fit into only one to two bins each. This reduced the storage bins from about 6-8 per child to 2 which gave us a lot more space to store items brought from the off-site storage unit. My client did an amazing job learning how to let go. Her kids still have plenty of great memorabilia to discover and uncover later!

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Storage Unit is Finally Emptied!

storage before

Situation: A storage unit becomes a necessity when  a home gets renovated. Things need to be taken out of the house in order to build and redesign. VERY understandable…

Challenge: Flash forward 5 or so years – the storage unit is still packed and the remodel was completed years ago. What really is still in this storage unit? Can anyone remember? Does this sound familiar?

Solution: We dug into this storage unit and emptied out the contents. Most of the stuff was deemed useless and donated immediately. A few keepsakes were taken home to be integrated into the newly remodeled space. A few supplies were given to the local school.

The unit is now empty and waiting for some other unfortunate soul who wants to create a black hole where money goes in and nothing comes out. Any takers?

Call me if you want your storage unit to go away too. I can help!

Katy EmptyStorage

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Organizing and Eliminating A Storage Unit

Before / After Case Study:


Our client had rented a storage unit for years. She was paying monthly to store holiday décor and furniture for relatives since she did not have the storage space in her home.


We finished a spare attic in the garage by adding plywood floors, installing a light and moving the air conditioning duct off to the side.

Our goal was to keep only the amount of plastic tubs that could fit into the new attic. We purged the excess decorations and donated many to her son’s school for their annual Halloween carnival. We also donated many other items to charity. The furniture found it’s way to the rightful owner and/or was taken to a consignment store.

In the end, everything fit into the attic with room to spare for additional tubs of “memories” and seasonal sporting equipment.

What Our Clients Say:

“I feel like a burden has been lifted now that I have gotten rid of all of the excess. It feels good to know that my “out of control holiday shopping” has gone to a good cause, my school and others less fortunate.

Accomplishing this has freed up so much in my life. I no longer look at the holidays with terror anymore. I used to have to get three days of really good sleep and get emotionally geared up to decorate. I always felt obligated to put everything up and it would take me two weeks to decorate. I was exhausted by the time I was finished.

When I think about it now, it really was gross that I had so much investment in storage. I have spent between $350-450 every month for the past 7-8 years. I also had to pay to move things back and forth from storage each year. Now I believe that I will never get into a storage unit again. Storage creates a big burden, you are paying for it and there really is no practical use for it.

Another thing about storage was that I couldn’t appreciate all of my beautiful things. The more I collected and owned, the more work it was and the less time I had to enjoy life. I now realize that those beautiful things cost me so much money over the years that I could have paid for them several times over.

Now I have plenty of time to actually enjoy the holidays. I am more relaxed this season than I have been in years. When I put out the holiday décor it was so fast that it was incredibly liberating. Everything that I have on display are things that I love and mean something special to my family. I have just enough items to make my home beautiful.

The money I spent with addSpace To Your Life! will easily pay for itself in less than half a year of storage fees. If I had not hired Kathi, I probably would have kept the storage unit for decades and eventually increased the size which would have increased my monthly bill again.”

Thank you, Debara Watanabe

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